Fascinating facts

There are three reasons that college coaches have virtually zero credibility in terms of their voting for the national rankings.

1. Many of them have the sports information director fill out their ballots.

2. Many of them have a hidden agenda involving certain teams.

3. Many of them are so busy scouting the teams on their schedule that they rarely get to watch anyone else.

Whereas college coaches are the wrong people to single out the best teams nationally, they are the right people to single out the best players regionally. They see nearly every quality player in their conference on the field or on video during the course of a year.

That's why several results from the Coaches' preseason All-SEC football poll are worth a closer examination. For instance:

- Alabama produced more first-, second- and third-team preseason all-conference players (11) than any other SEC state. Florida (10) was second, with Georgia (9) third.

- Arkansas, which is not known as a hotbed for football talent, placed a surprising fourth in terms of producing All-SEC players (7). Six of the seven play for the home-state Razorbacks, who lead all league teams in preseason All-SEC picks with 14. Bama (13) is second, followed by the Georgia Bulldogs and South Carolina Gamecocks (9 each).

- Louisiana, which is known as a major producer of prep football talent, is responsible for six preseason all-conference players, but that is only one more than South Carolina and Tennessee (5 each).

- Mississippi stands eighth among the nine SEC states in producing all-league players (4), while Kentucky checks in dead last. The lone preseason All-SEC honoree from the Bluegrass State is offensive lineman Larry Warford, who plays for the home-state Wildcats.

- Three of the SEC's premier offensive weapons grew up in Florida but none plays for the home-state Gators. First-team all-conference quarterback Aaron Murray and first-team all-conference tight end Orson Charles play for Georgia. First-team tailback Trent Richardson plays for Alabama. One first-team all-league defender also grew up in Florida but linebacker Danny Trevathan (Kentucky) didn't pick the Gators, either. Only two of the 10 Floridians named to the preseason all-league team play for the state university - second-team All-SEC running back Jeff Demps and third-team All-SEC linebacker Jon Bostic. That may help explain why the Gators were one of college football's biggest flops of 2010, finishing 8-5 in spite of a ridiculously favorable schedule.

- The Tennessee Vols also have struggled to keep the home-state talent at home. Not one of the five Volunteer State selections to the Coaches preseason All-SEC team chose to play for the Vols. First-team offensive lineman Barrett Jones (Memphis) and first-team linebacker Dont'a Hightower (Lewisburg) attend Alabama. First-team linebacker Chris Marve (Memphis) plays for Vanderbilt. Third-team offensive lineman Alex Hurst (Bartlett) represents LSU and third-team defensive lineman Tenarius Wright (Memphis) plays for Arkansas. Considering how young Tennessee was in the offensive line and how weak it was at linebacker last season, having Jones and Hurst in the blocking front, along with Hightower and Marve in the LB corps, might have turned last fall's 6-7 record into a 10-3 mark.

- The Big Orange's inability to sign the top in-state talent is one reason it finished dead last among the 12 SEC programs in terms of preseason all-conference selections. Only two Vols earned mention by the league coaches and both had to travel a long way to play for the Big Orange - first-team All-SEC defensive lineman Malik Jackson (Northridge, Calif.) and third-team All-SEC defensive back Prentiss Waggner (Clinton, La.).

- The Georgia Bulldogs also struggled to protect their state boundaries. Of the nine Peach State products who made preseason All-SEC, only three will be playing for Mark Richt's Dawgs this fall.

- Conversely, Nick Saban continues to show why he's considered an elite recruiter and developer of talent. Of the 11 Alabama natives who grace the Coaches' preseason All-SEC team, nine of them will be playing for the Crimson Tide this fall.

NOTE: Special-teams players were excluded from this article.

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